By Rama Gaind
PS News Books
Griffith Review 36: What is Australia For?
Edited by Julianne Schultz (Text Publishing, $27.95, softcover, 261 pages)
The debate on our national identity can resume at any time because Australia is no longer remote, small or isolated. Now is as good a time as any to discover and acknowledge the wealth of resources beyond mining.
This collection of essays, memoir, fiction and reportage is brimming with optimism as the writers distinguish the visionary ideas for the future, uncover neglected stories from the past and provide a motivating forum for new voices to make their case.
Even though there are difficult times ahead with global transition and uncertainty, this is also an era when Australia has remarkable advantages—ones that it has to build on if the nation is to prosper.
Specifics are achieved through an array of voices: intellectual analysis made by contributors make for some compelling cases.
There’s a forceful account from Frank Moorhouse about a near-death experience in the bush; Dennis Altman wants to know if Australians have lost the will to create a better society; Nick Bryant looks at our cultural cringe; Kim Mahood gives a painful account of white workers in remote Aboriginal communities; Robyn Archer debates about sustainability and resilience being at the heart of our national debate; and Maria Papa reflects on cultural appropriation.
It’s the reader who evaluates what is worth valuing and what must be altered.
It appears that ‘politics is no longer the art of the possible and whingeing has replaced can-do’. Public discussion should be removed from the past and strive forward to forge an exciting new future.
What is Australia For? is a question with many answers, but the narratives in this edition provide the “humus from which a new vision of Australia might emerge”.
Edition 406, 22 April 2014
To find out more about Rama Gaind click here.